Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Virginia Tech Hokies preview


The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are 3-0. That is an indisputable fact at this juncture of the 2014 college football season, but in all fairness to Paul Johnson’s club, no one is fully satisfied with their performance during the first trio of games. Still, a blemish-less record is always an encouraging thing, and because of that, there is some form of optimism as the Jackets head to Blacksburg for easily their biggest test of the season against the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday. Let’s break down the match-up.

Opponent: Virginia Tech Hokies

Time/TV: 12:00 pm ET, ESPN

Georgia Tech Offense vs. Virginia Tech Defense

Perhaps the single most important match-up of any game that involves Georgia Tech surrounds how their running game will fare against the opposing defense, and that is certainly true in this game. The Jackets are 12th in the country in rushing this season, averaging 306 yards per contest, and QB Justin Thomas has proved to be dynamic at times, averaging 6.5 yards per carry in leading the team with 278 yards. However, the Jackets do not have a dynamic featured back at this stage (though Zach Laskey has been quite good, as evidenced by his 5.4 YPC average), and Virginia Tech poses a threat in run defense.

The Hokies are one of the top-20 units in the country with regard to rushing defense, allowing only 86.3 yards per game on the ground, and thus, something has to give here. Traditionally effective rushing defenses are often neutralized by Georgia Tech’s unique style, but the Hokies do have the athletes and disciplined coaching that could give the Jackets fits, and Bud Foster is always ready with a wrinkle or two to throw off the opposing offense. It will certainly be an interesting battle, both on the field and in the coaching box.

In the passing game, Thomas hasn’t been terribly accurate (53.2% completion), but he has connected with DeAndre Smelter on a smattering of big plays, and that could be key in this game. Smelter is the next in the long line of NFL wide receivers in this offense, and a deep ball or two could go a long way toward navigating what is a tough overall match-up.

Georgia Tech Defense vs. Virginia Tech Offense

Much like the other side of the ball, the running game is the key with regard to Georgia Tech’s defensive performance in this game. The Jackets have been inept at stopping the run at times, and as a result, they are currently 108th in America (out of 124 teams) in rushing defense while allowing more than 215 yards per game. To this point, the Hokies haven’t been particularly effective on the ground, with starting running back Marshawn Williams averaging just 3.3 yards per carry on the year, but this Georgia Tech defensive front is nothing to be excited about from a perspective of a Jackets fan.

The pass defense has been somewhat impressive, however, ranking in the top-30 among FBS teams, and Virginia Tech QB Michael Brewer certainly hasn’t proven to be a dynamic option. The junior signal-caller has thrown 7 touchdown passes in three games, but they are matched with five interceptions, and the Jackets could be opportunistic in swarming to the ball in order to produce takeaways.

In theory, the Virginia Tech offense would present a significant talent edge over the first three opponents, but this isn’t your older brother’s Virginia Tech offense that featured NFL-caliber skill players, either.


To say that Georgia Tech is “expected” to win this game in Blacksburg would be incorrect, and they should certainly be considered the underdog in this spot. However, the Hokies are quite beatable (as shown by East Carolina last week), and while Frank Beamer will almost definitely have his team prepared to play after a loss, Georgia Tech’s “A-game” would be enough to squeeze out a victory on the road.

Stay tuned for post-game coverage, and a live game thread that will open on Saturday morning. Check it out!